Lazy Sunday: Old Time Radio and Influenza – Listening to the Jack Benny Show While Sick In Bed

 Lazy Sunday – a weekly column where I discuss my favorite lazy day indulgences – movies, television shows, books and music.

All this week I’ve been sick with the flu. Now I’m at the tail end of it – still tired, still weak, but itching to get back regular life. And that means back to blogging. I’ve missed this lil’ ole blog.

As you know, I’m a huge old Hollywood fan. If you asked me my favorite actors, actresses, comedians, or singers I guarantee the majority of them will be dead. What can I say? I’m nostalgic for a time period I never lived in. One of my favorite old time entertainers is the wonderful comedian Jack Benny.

While most people still remember Bob Hope and George Burns, Jack Benny’s name is fast slipping from the public’s conscious. Maybe because he didn’t live as long as the other two…maybe because he didn’t tour as prolifically with the USO as Bob Hope (although he did plenty of USO tours)…maybe because he didn’t have a late career resurgence like George Burns…who knows?
Whatever the reason is, it’s a darn shame! Jack Benny is awesome! He is a hilarious comedian. While most comedians depended on jokes to get a laugh he could keep people rolling in the aisles with a well timed reaction.

Too funny!

So this week, while sick in bed, I decided that laughter would be the best medicine for me and I downloaded podcasts of his radio show. Thanks to an intrepid podcaster who calls himself Buck Benny I was able to listen to show upon show of Jack and his talented cast of performers.

Dennis Day, the Irish Tenor, who hilariously plays a simple minded, innocent kid who always gets on Jack’s nerves.  Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, a famous comedian in his own right, as Jack’s butler Rochester Van Jones. Although he played a butler the role was far from stereotypical. Rochester is smarter than Jack and is constantly putting him in his place. Phil Harris, later famous as the voice of Baloo in Disney’s The Jungle Book, as Jack’s heavy drinking, skirt chasing bandleader. Mary Livingstone, Jack Benny’s real life wife, as his sarcastic friend and co-worker. Don Wilson his longtime announcer. And the great Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Tweety, and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang) in a variety of hilarious roles.

The show has a timeless quality even though it often references people and events that are long forgotten. The humor is fresh, the cast is intrepid and the one liners are rapid fire. And some of my favorite parts are when the cast breaks up. After all, it was live radio, and no matter what the flub the show always went on. To hear the performers breakdown into genuine laughter is a real treat.

The earliest shows are around 80 years old which I find amazing. They’ve endured so long and I hope that more people will take advantage of the ability to listen to them. They are true treasures.

To check out the podcast, click here.

Oh, and I couldn’t resist this parting shot

That’s an advertisement you wouldn’t see nowadays!


  1. Buck Benny February 2, 2016 at 6:02 am


    Hope you are still enjoying the podcast. Thanks for the kind words. What are your favorite shows other than Jack’s, of course? What is your favorite era of Jack’s show?

    Your pal,

    Buck Benny

    1. mk1005 February 3, 2016 at 12:58 am


      I still enjoy the podcast and listen to it regularly. I also love the radio shows of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Red Skelton. My favorite era would be the years where the cast included Dennis Day, Phil Harris, Rochester, Mary and Mel Blanc.

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